Hoylake and West Kirby RNLI mark charity’s 200th anniversary

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It’s been a week to remember for volunteers at the RNLI in Hoylake and West Kirby as celebrations took place to mark the lifesaving charity’s bicentenary.

On Monday, a flotilla of RNLI lifeboats, from West Kirby, Hoylake and New Brighton, came together on the River Mersey to pay tribute to volunteers past and present.

The images, taken by photographer David Edwards, re-created those taken 25 years for the 175th anniversary of the RNLI. Hoylake’s hovercraft was not included as it was taking part in a rescue.

Volunteers from the RNLI in Wirral at the Westminster Abbey service

On the same day, Jono Dodd and Chris Gatenby from West Kirby RNLI joined Nigel Manley and Richard Martindale from Hoylake lifeboat to be part of a special service at Westminster Abbey.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent attended the thanksgiving, along with an 1,800-strong congregation from RNLI crews around the country.

Also this week, a ‘Women of the RNLI’ exhibition opened at the Royal Maritime Museum in Greenwich, featuring female volunteers from West Kirby RNLI.

They were captured by Jack Lowe, an artist who for almost a decade has been documenting the crews of every lifeboat station using old school glass plate photography.

He visited the lifeboat in March 2022 to photograph many of the crew.

Jack Lowe taking photographs of the West Kirby crew, included in the ‘Women of the RNLI’ exhibition

Finally, Hoylake RNLI volunteer Emily Jones baked a spectacular cake featuring the Wirral shoreline and estuary, including the town’s lifeboat station.

Hoylake RNLI said on Facebook: “Every birthday calls for cake and thanks to the culinary craftwork of Hoylake RNLI volunteer Emily Jones, our crew celebrated the RNLI’s 200th anniversary with this baking masterpiece.

“The detail is incredible, featuring a topographically accurate nautical chart of Liverpool Bay along with its many features including our lifeboat station, Leasowe Lighthouse, the Burbo Bank Wind Farm, and local buoyage.”

“The cake is surrounded by our station history, including photographs of our lifeboats, our 1810 Memorial, the Slater Trophy from our Boxing Day Tug o’War, and our original boathouse on Hoylake promenade.

“Although it looked too good to eat, our crew enjoyed tucking into this delicious creation following yesterday’s River Mersey flotilla and a mud rescue in Leasowe Bay. Well done and thank you Emily for this astounding cake!”

The birthday cake baked by Hoylake RNLI volunteer Emily Jones

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to be at the helm of the RNLI for the past five years, and to see the charity reach its bicentenary.

“For a charity to have survived 200 years based on the time and commitment of volunteers, and the sheer generosity of the public donating to fund it, is truly remarkable.

“It is through the courage and dedication of its incredible people that the RNLI has survived the tests of time, including tragic losses, funding challenges, two World Wars and, more recently, a global pandemic.”

Jo Partner, RNLI Head of Region in Wales, the West and the Isle of Man said: “I am thrilled we’re able to make the bicentenary of the RNLI in such a unique way here in the North West.

“Today we celebrate a world-class lifesaving service and I’m immensely grateful to all those involved with the charity – our volunteers, supporters and staff.”

Throughout its bicentenary year, the charity is running events and activities to remember its important history and celebrate the modern lifesaving service it is today, while hoping to inspire generations of future lifesavers and supporters.

Photo credits: David Edwards, West Kirby RNLI and Hoylake RNLI